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Capitalism and the Mad Uncle in the Attic


US Politics & Gov't  (tags: americans, candidates, congress, constitution, corruption, cover-up, dishonesty, democrats, elections, ethics, freedoms, Govtfearmongering, lies, media, politics, propaganda, republicans, socialsecurity, SupremeCourt, war )

Kit
- 820 days ago - commondreams.org
Listen. Can you hear the Mad Uncle in the attic? His muffled shriekings are getting louder as the myths, deceptions and delusions we've been living on evaporate one by one in the face of reality.



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Kit B. (276)
Saturday June 23, 2012, 8:24 am

Listen. Can you hear the Mad Uncle in the attic? His muffled shriekings are getting louder as the myths, deceptions and delusions weíve been living on evaporate one by one in the face of reality.
Can you feel that sickening thrill as we poise atop this Sisyphean peak we call capitalism, right before the inevitable, nauseating plunge back down into reality?

Can you smell the stench from the soon-to-fail Rio plus 20 meeting as we con ourselves into believing we can snatch a bit more time at the peak if only we could steal yet more of our childrenís childrenís childrenís birthright?

Ah, but we Ė plutocrats and people alike -- all beg, canít we keep this damned Uncle locked up for just a little more time. Maybe until this election is over. Or until weíve extracted a little more money from a fossil-fueled economy based on greed and exploitation. Or until Ö oh, I donít know Ö until weíve bled the last iota of money from the 99%? Or at least until Ö I get mine?

Canít we pretend for just one more generation that capitalism Ė pure, unconstrained capitalism, the kind Reagan promised us would bring morning to America Ė isnít instead bringing mourning to America, and to the world?

Canít we just pretend, for one more generation, that the whole infinite growth on a finite world thing isnít just a giant, tragic Ponzi Scheme designed to sell out the future?

Canít we pass this problem onto them?

Canít we use buzz words and sound bites to drown out the lunatic? Words like socialist or redistribution or Ė most dreaded of all Ė communism. Canít we keep pretending that capitalism is the necessary handmaiden of Democracy, the only path to prosperity, our only source of happiness?

No. We canít. Because deep down inside, in places we donít like to visit, we know the Mad Uncle is right.

What weíre doing now isnít making us all rich. Itís impoverishing us.

Ultimately, all wealth comes from natural capital. Things like fertile soils; viable forests; intact gene pools; abundant minerals; clean water and living oceans; sustainable fish stocks; flourishing ecosystems; a stable, life-sustaining climate. We are liquidating these essential sources of wealth as if they were so much junk offered for pennies on the dollar at a desperate garage sale.

Our current version of capitalism is good at generating more currency, not greater wealth. And we forget that currency is merely a surrogate for things of real value, with no tangible value in and of itself.

And even the currency isnít being distributed equally. Itís being siphoned off by the richest and most powerful in a spiral of inequity.

It isn't making us happy, it's enslaving us to a life spent pursuing more and more stuff we donít need for reasons we donít understand. Bigger; more; faster becomes biggest; most; fastest. But easy, easier, easiest becomes fatter, sicker weaker.

It isnít making us free, itís creating a tyranny of the corporations and plutocrats. They weaken government in the name of freedom, only to turn us into indentured servants to a system that's designed to take from the poor and middle class and give to the uber rich, even as it liquidates Earthís treasures.

But the real tragedy isnít our own alienation or our economic and spiritual impoverishment. It is the diminished legacy we leave the rest of humanity and indeed, the rest of the biosphere.

Itís our willingness to consume the future in an orgy of gluttony, drowning out the Mad Uncleís protests with the noise of our own slurping, chewing, smacking, munching, crunching as we inhale our childrenís birthright.

Hyperbole?

Not really. Every living system is in decline, and the rate is accelerating.

In the case of climate change we are at the threshold of igniting feedbacks that will usher in an inevitable and catastrophic set of changes that will make life difficult in some areas and impossible in others.

Itís time to admit that the Mad Uncle is right. Pure, unconstrained capitalism is the problem, not the solution.

What, then, are we to do?

There are alternatives. We could tie currency to sustainable eco-systems. Instead of a gold standard we could have a green standard. Thus, destruction of a nationís stock of natural capital would devalue its currency, and make it poorer.

We could adopt systems of production and ownership such as Co-ops that emphasized cooperation, equitable sharing of revenue and stewardship of our natural resources. Itís not pie-in-the sky, to consider this. Cooperatives already produce more than $1 trillion in assets, enough to make them equivalent to the 10th largest economy in the world.

We could insist that trade agreements contain real, enforceable requirements for equitable treatment of labor and serious environmental protections, so that globalization ceased being a race to the bottom for humans and the planet.

Yes, these ideas are unrealistic, naÔve, politically impossible and all the other labels that will surely be affixed to them and other ideas like them.

But it is worth remembering, that the only thing more unrealistic than junking our current bastardized system of economics is supposing we can continue to liquidate the Earth without consequence.

Thatís what the Mad Uncle is telling us. We continue to ignore him at our peril.
***

by John Atcheson | Common Dreams |

 

Yvonne White (232)
Saturday June 23, 2012, 4:50 pm
"Canít we just pretend, for one more generation, that the whole infinite growth on a finite world thing isnít just a giant, tragic Ponzi Scheme designed to sell out the future?" It seems to work for Both Political Parties & the 1%....at least until the warrants are handed out!;)

 

Kit B. (276)
Saturday June 23, 2012, 5:03 pm

One generation will not fix the many problems, it will take a whole new way of dealing with things. We have ignored or openly fought to keep things just as they are, let the next generation fix things, or the one after that. While each generation grows to find their jobs pay less, the food stock is more expensive, dollars earned are fewer, facts are replaced by myths and this whole mess continues to grow. Congratulations, we are rapidly approaching the end of life as we know it...
 

Surunatik WTF (38)
Saturday June 23, 2012, 11:25 pm
"Our current version of capitalism is good at generating currency, not greater wealth." This statement speaks volumes, repeat read until it sinks in.

It is likely most of us have TV, do we live like the people in the commercials? Are they intended to inspire us, or to lull us into a mindless cartoon-like world, encouraging our pathetic acceptance of our orchestrated demise.

A wonderfully written, and plaintive entreaty to reestablish sanity. We cannot "continue to liquidate the Earth without consequence". Lets BE the solution.
 

John Gregoire (255)
Sunday June 24, 2012, 4:49 am
Kit,
I read this wonderful thought piece just after three others of the usual raving. It was both refershing and right on. I disagree on one point as I believe from the evidence we see in birds, plants, wildlife and oceans that we may well be over the tipping point.

Although I hope you are correct, we don't have many more genratiuons in which to fix the problem. radical change right now may do it but we have the proverbial snowball's chance of doing it. In this country we need get rid of all the politicians, lawyers and others who drag the country and the environment down, down, down.

Thanks for the well thoguht out narrative.
 

Rob and Jay B. (121)
Sunday June 24, 2012, 7:39 am
"It isn't making us happy, it's enslaving us to a life spent pursuing more and more stuff we donít need for reasons we donít understand. Bigger; more; faster becomes biggest; most; fastest. But easy, easier, easiest becomes fatter, sicker weaker.

"It isnít making us free, itís creating a tyranny of the corporations and plutocrats. They weaken government in the name of freedom, only to turn us into indentured servants to a system that's designed to take from the poor and middle class and give to the uber rich, even as it liquidates Earthís treasures"

Unregulated corporate capitalism is a failure. The proof is all around us. There have been 2 other depressions in the past 100 yrs caused by the exact same unregulated greed and incompetence that caused the present one, and regulations on corporations and banks were put in place afterward to keep them honest until people forgot and along came the demigogs, like Reagan, Thatcher, the Bushes and Clinton and stripped them all away again, and look what happened. (And Obama has done very little to regulate the thieves again, as he has surrounded himself by Wall St. 'advisors').

Why is it that people so easily fall for the big lie that government regulations are bad? They are there to protect the weaker people, just like the 'regulations' of the Constitution and Bill of Rights are there to protect minorities and the weak from the rich and powerful (theoretically, any way).

Once things start picking up again (hopefully they will) it will only be a matter of time that all the rage will be forgotten and another demigog or two will come along again preaching pure, unregulated corporate capitalism as the panacea for all our ills, and people will fall for is all over again, and with the same results as all the times before.

If you all haven't read the excellent book about US Corporate Unregulated Capitalism and the Corporatocracy that runs the US, and has done for a long time, "The Shock Doctrine" by the award winning journalist Naomi Klein, then you should. Her reference section is larger than many novels and it will open your eyes to the pattern and awful history of Capitalist/US aggression against the peoples and countries around the world as the US military made the world safe for US corporations to plunder and rape it - and all in the jinoistic name of 'Freedom and Democracy'.
 

Caitlin Mac Iver (103)
Sunday June 24, 2012, 8:52 am
Thanks, Kit. This piece by John Atcheson | Common Dreams | says it all and says it well. Now I'm going to look into reading Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine," as Rob & Jay have suggested, if my stomach can take it! I'm afraid we are past the tipping point and that not enough people will understand the urgency of changing our worship of capitalism and its greedy, destructive ways.
 

Caitlin Mac Iver (103)
Sunday June 24, 2012, 8:53 am
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Eternal Gardener (743)
Tuesday June 26, 2012, 7:27 pm
The post-summit pledge was an admission of defeat against consumer capitalism.
It is, perhaps, the greatest failure of collective leadership since the first world war. The Earth's living systems are collapsing, and the leaders of some of the most powerful nations Ė the United States, the UK, Germany, Russia Ė could not even be bothered to turn up and discuss it. Those who did attend the Earth summit in Rio last week solemnly agreed to keep stoking the destructive fires: sixteen times in their text they pledged to pursue "sustained growth", the primary cause of the biosphere's losses.

The efforts of governments are concentrated not on defending the living Earth from destruction, but on defending the machine that is destroying it. Whenever consumer capitalism becomes snarled up by its own contradictions, governments scramble to mend the machine, to ensure Ė though it consumes the conditions that sustain our lives Ė that it runs faster than ever before.

The thought that it might be the wrong machine, pursuing the wrong task, cannot even be voiced in mainstream politics. The machine greatly enriches the economic elite, while insulating the political elite from the mass movements it might otherwise confront. We have our bread; now we are wandering, in spellbound reverie, among the circuses.

Was it too much to have asked of the world's governments, which performed such miracles in developing stealth bombers and drone warfare, global markets and trillion-dollar bailouts, that they might spend a tenth of the energy and resources they devoted to these projects on defending our living planet? It seems, sadly, that it was.
 
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